First ever Baby Week toddles into Leeds

Leeds, Leeds Star

Leeds will be awash with all things ‘baby’ next week, as the city launches its first ever Baby Week.

Baby Week is an annual early years’ initiative aimed at bringing together statutory and voluntary services in the maternity, children and family sector.

Baby Week Leeds replicates the Brazilian Semana do Bebe which is a week-long event of baby and child-friendly activities and workshops including families and professionals. Baby Week is being brought to Leeds by a partnership of Leeds Beckett University, Leeds City Council, NHS Leeds, Child Friendly Leeds and Semana do Bebe.

Running from Monday 12 September until Friday 16 September, the week will start with an opening conference at Leeds Beckett University’s Rose Bowl and conclude with a closing ceremony at the Civic Hall and a pram push around Millennium Square. The week aims to promote the UNICEF baby-friendly initiative – the Best Start Plan in Leeds, and will actively engage children and families in their own communities, reflecting the diversity of need and raising awareness of a baby’s important growth and development stages, both mentally and physically.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children and families said: “Ensuring children have the best start in life is a top priority for Leeds and by working together with our partners in health and education we can make sure that all children are able to benefit from the best services and opportunities as soon as they are born. We are very excited to be bringing Baby Week to Leeds – which will not only help new parents and parents-to-be but also professionals and students.”

Professor Nick Frost from Leeds Beckett’s School of Health and Community Studies has helped implement the initiative, making Leeds the first English speaking city to replicate the Brazilian model. The aim is to celebrate services which reflect a diverse mix of what Leeds has to offer and to help inform and improve access to services for families.

He commented: “In addition to bringing together a wide range of services to support families in our city, Baby Week Leeds will also provide a platform for the recent Best Start Plan, which is a new policy being implemented throughout Leeds. Since October last year there has been a steering group with representatives from Leeds Beckett University, Child Friendly Leeds, Children Centre Services, Health Visitors, Social Workers, and Home Start.

“Semana do Bebe has raised awareness in the critical growth stages of a baby’s physical and mental growth since the programme launched in 2000. Over the years it has helped reduce infant mortality, increased awareness in breast feeding and helped inform policy.”

Director of Baby Week Leeds, Lucy Potter, who is a Leeds-based community and charity worker and has worked with Professor Frost and the council’s Child Friendly Leeds team to develop the programme. She said: “Part of the week will be aimed towards professionals, academics and students. Following the opening conference at the Rose Bowl, there will be range of activities provided at various children’s centres that will help attract more families to take part in early years’ activities.

“Baby Week will provide a platform to promote two early years’ policies from public health: Best Start Plan and The Maternity Strategy. The first will see the Best Start Plan’s key messages disseminated within packs of information handed out at the different events during the week; and the Maternity Strategy will host their engagement drop-in event for pregnant mums, parents-to-be, new parents with babies and professionals who work in perinatal care.”

For further information and for a full list of the week’s activities, visit: www.babyweek.co.uk